Graded supplementation of chestnut tannins to dairy cows fed protein-rich spring pasture: effects on indicators of protein utilization
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Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Ackerstrasse 113, 5070 Frick, Switzerland
ETH Zurich, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Universitaetstrasse 2, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
University of Hohenheim, Institute of Animal Production in the Tropics and Subtropics, Garbenstrasse 13, 70599 Stuttgart, Germany
Publication date: 2020-06-30
Corresponding author
F. Leiber   

Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Ackerstrasse 113, 5070 Frick, Switzerland
J. Anim. Feed Sci. 2020;29(2):97-104
An on-farm experiment was conducted in order to evaluate effects of graded supplementation with chestnut tannin extract to cows in situations of excessive dietary protein supply on a low-input organic dairy farm. Respectively 10 Swiss Fleckvieh cows received twice per day 1 kg of experimental pellets containing either 0, 50 or 100 g/kg of chestnut extract (targeted at approximately 0, 5 and 10 g extract/kg of total dietary dry matter). Experimental feeding lasted for 21 days. Measurements and collection of milk, faeces and urine spot samples were performed in weeks 0 (baseline), 1 and 3. All cows were kept in one herd on pasture; fresh grass and grass hay were provided in the barn during night. Milk yield was recorded and cows wore sensor halters for recording chewing activity. In urine, total nitrogen and purine derivatives were measured; faeces were analyzed for protein, fibre and particle fractions; in milk, solid concentrations were determined. The data was analyzed with a general linear model. Cows did not show differences in general eating and rumination behaviour, but needed time to accept the tannin-containing pellets. Milk yield and composition were not affected by treatment, except for lactose content. No relevant differences between treatments were found for urinary and faecal parameters. In conclusion, although technically easy to supplement, pellets containing chestnut tannin extract were not readily accepted by the cows and effects on protein digestion and metabolism were not found. Successful on-farm application of chestnut extract in order to improve nitrogen efficiency therefore seems questionable.
We thank to Alois Huber, Wildegg, for giving access to his cows and the laboratory staff of FiBL and University of Hohenheim for supporting analyses.
This project was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (project no. 31003A_166425).
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